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We must speak also of the Labyrinths, the most stupendous works, perhaps, on which mankind has expended its labours; and not for chimerical purposes, merely, as might possibly be supposed.

There is still in Egypt, in the Nome of Heracleopolites,1 a labyrinth,2 which was the first constructed, three thousand six hundred years ago, they say, by King Petesuchis or Tithöes: although, according to Herodotus, the entire work was the production of no less than twelve kings, the last of whom was Psammetichus. As to the purpose for which it was built, there are various opinions: Demoteles says that it was the palace of King Moteris, and Lyceas that it was the tomb of Mœris, while many others assert that it was a building consecrated to the Sun, an opinion which mostly prevails.

That Dædalus took this for the model of the Labyrinth which he constructed in Crete, there can be no doubt; though he only reproduced the hundredth part of it, that portion, namely, which encloses circuitous passages, windings, and inextricable galleries which lead to and fro. We must not, comparing this last to what we see delineated on our mosaic pavements, or to the mazes3 formed in the fields for the amusement of children, suppose it to be a narrow promenade along which we may walk for many miles together; but we must picture to ourselves a building filled with numerous doors, and galleries which continually mislead the visitor, bringing him back, after all his wanderings, to the spot from which he first set out. This4 Labyrinth is the second, that of Egypt being the first. There is a third in the Isle of Lemnos, and a fourth in Italy.

They are all of them covered with arched roofs of polished stone; at the entrance, too, of the Egyptian Labyrinth, a thing that surprises me, the building is constructed of Parian marble, while throughout the other parts of it the columns are of syenites.5 With such solidity is this huge mass constructed, that the lapse of ages has been totally unable to destroy it, seconded as it has been by the people of Heracleopolites, who have marvellously ravaged a work which they have always held in abhorrence. To detail the position of this work and the various portions of it is quite impossible, it being sub- divided into regions and præfectures, which are styled nomes,6 thirty in number, with a vast palace assigned to each. In addition to these, it should contain temples of all the gods of Egypt, and forty statues of Nemesis7 in as many sacred shrines; besides numerous pyramids, forty ells8 in height, and covering six aruræ9 at the base. Fatigued with wandering to and fro, the visitor is sure to arrive at some inextricable crossing or other of the galleries. And then, too, there are banquetting rooms situate at the summit of steep ascents; porticos from which we descend by flights of ninety steps; columns in the interior, made of porphyrites;10 figures of gods; statues of kings; and effigies of hideous monsters. Some of the palaces are so peculiarly constructed, that the moment the doors are opened a dreadful sound like that of thunder reverberates within: the greater part, too, of these edifices have to be traversed in total darkness. Then again, without the walls of the Labyrinth, there rises another mass of buildings known as the "Pteron;"11 beneath which there are passages excavated leading to other subterranean palaces. One person, and only one, has made some slight repairs to the Labyrinth; Chæremon,12 an eunuch of King Necthebis, who lived five hundred years before the time of Alexander the Great. It is asserted, also, that while the arched roofs of squared stone were being raised, he had them supported by beams of thorn13 boiled in oil.

As for the Cretan Labyrinth, what I have already stated must suffice for that. The Labyrinth of Lemnos14 is similar to it, only that it is rendered more imposing by its hundred and fifty columns; the shafts of which, when in the stone-yard, were so nicely balanced, that a child was able to manage the wheel of the lathe in turning them. The archi- tects were, Smilis,15 Rhœcus,16 and Theodorus, natives of the island, and there are still in existence some remains of it; whereas of the Cretan Labyrinth and of that in Italy not a vestige is left.

As to this last, which Porsena, King of Etruria, erected as his intended sepulchre, it is only proper that I should make some mention of it, if only to show that the vanity displayed by foreign monarchs, great as it is, has been surpassed. But as the fabulousness of the story connected with it quite exceeds all bounds, I shall employ the words given by M. Varro himself in his account of it:—"Porsena was buried," says he, "beneath the city of Clusium;17 in the spot where he had had constructed a square monument, built of squared stone. Each side of this monument was three hundred feet in length and fifty in height, and beneath the base, which was also square, there was an inextricable labyrinth, into which if any one entered without a clew of thread, he could never find his way out. Above this square building there stand five pyramids, one at each corner, and one in the middle, seventy-five feet broad at the base, and one hundred and fifty feet in height. These pyramids are so tapering in their form, that upon the summit of all of them united there rests a brazen globe, and upon that a petasus;18 from which there hang, suspended by chains, bells, which make a tinkling when agitated by the wind, like what was done at Dodona19 in former times. Upon this globe there are four other pyramids, each one hundred feet in height; and above them is a single platform, on which there are five more pyramids,"20—the height of which Varro has evidently felt ashamed to add; but, according to the Etruscan fables, it was equal to that of the rest of the building. What downright madness this, to attempt to seek glory at an outlay which can never be of utility to any one; to say nothing of exhausting the resources of the kingdom, and after all, that the artist may reap the greater share of the praise!

1 See B. v. c. 9.

2 The site of this labyrinth has not been traced, but Sir G. Wilkinson is inclined to think that it was at Howarah el Soghaï in the Faiöum.

3 Similar, probably, to the one at Hampton Court.

4 Most modern writers, and some of the ancients, have altogether denied the existence of the Cretan Labyrinth; but, judging from the testimony of Tournefort and Cockerell, it is most probable that it really did exist, and that it was a vast natural grotto or cavern, enlarged and made additionally intricate by human ingenuity. There are many caverns of this nature in Crete, and one near Gortyna, at Hagios-Deka, is replete with galleries and intricate windings similar to those ascribed to the Labyrinth of Dædalus.

5 See Chapter 13 of this Book. He is surprised that the people of Egypt, a country which abounded in exquisite marbles, should have used that of another country in preference to their own.

6 As to the meaning of this word, see B. v. c. 9.

7 See Chapter 5 of this Book.

8 "Ulnæ." See Introduction to Vol. III.

9 The ὰρουρα was a Greek square measure, containing 2500 square feet.

10 See Chapter 11 of this Book.

11 As to the meaning of this word, see Chapter 4 of this Book, page 317, and Note 77.

12 "Circummon" is a more common reading.

13 Or acacia. See B. xxiv. c. 65.

14 Welcker remarks that it is uncertain whether this Labyrinth was erected as a temple of the Cabiri, or whether it had any connection with the art of mining.

15 Smilis lived, probably, 200 years before Rhœcus and Theodorus, and was a native of Ægina, not Lemnos. Sillig, however, is inclined to think that there were two artists of this name; the elder a contemporary of Dædalus, and the maker of several wooden statues.

16 See B. xxxv. c. 43.

17 See B. iii. c. 8.

18 A round, broad-brimmed hat, such as we see represented in the statues of Mercury.

19 Where two brazen vessels were erected on a column, adjoining to which was the statue of a boy with a whip; which, when agitated by the wind, struck the vessels, and omens were drawn from the tinkling noise produced, significant of future events, it was supposed.

20 A building like this, as Niebuhr says, is absolutely impossible, and belongs to the "Arabian Nights." The description in some particulars resembles that of a Chinese pagoda.

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